Friday, February 23, 2007

A Popping Good Time with the Tempur-Pedic

This time last year, there was plenty of bike parking where I leave my means of transport during work. This year, even on the worst days (i.e., the worst days on which I still ride; on the really worst days, I now take BART), it can be difficult to find a spot if one doesn’t arrive a bit before 9 a.m.

This is good, because it means ridership is up, but worrisome to those of us who don’t like to leave our worrying until the last minute: In the spring, when the weather is great, where will I park?

There is another rack, but access to it is often problematic, because it’s much closer to the nearest parked car.

So I called my friend the building manager, but found she had been replaced by someone new, who didn’t return my first couple of calls, so I concluded she was a bad person who hated cyclists.

In due time, however, we met—she was actually quite nice, of course—and I showed her where more space is needed. She asked, “Is that all?” and sounded delighted. I guess the reputation of San Francisco cyclist for militant action now precedes us.

It was a friendly meeting and maybe more space will be allotted for that rack one of these days.

Even so, when the warm weather comes, both racks may be fully occupied by the time I normally get to work, so I got to thinking about the city’s bike lockers. I had signed up for one close to my previous work location, but by the time it became available, I had moved a couple of blocks away and so let someone else take it.

Right after that, I decided maybe I should take it, just in case, but someone else had already snatched it. To the best of my knowledge, I asked to be put back on the waiting list, but wasn’t positive, so I called the city bike lady and she said that I was not on the list, but that a locker in that location did happen to be available, so I took it. It’s about a ten-minute walk from there to work.

The other day I was thinking about how it had been a long time since I’d gotten into a transportation-related fight with anyone. I thought about how I might announce that here, and how I would be sure to find myself in a fight soon after saying so, because that’s how the universe works. Forty-five minutes later, even before I said anything, I was in a fight.

On Market St. near approximately Ninth St., there is a bus lane, a car lane, and a bike lane. As has been the case lately, there was a big red van in the bike lane; therefore, I was in the car lane, along with tens of other cyclists, when a black Audi passed dangerously close to me, souring my mood.

As Twisty Faster recently wrote, to paraphrase almost not at all, the Andy Griffith whistle withered on my lips and I stopped to have a word with the van driver. I’ll omit the tedious details except to say that I was pretty much completely polite—I was in my very mildest fight-ready mood; had my mood been any milder, I wouldn’t even have stopped—and that the interaction ended with an employee of the van company placing his face eight inches from mine and yelling “Fuck off!” Tsk.

He was well-placed for me to put my fingers in his nostrils up to my knuckles, but I refrained.

When I got to work, I called someone at the building in front of which the van was parked to convey my disappointment, but didn’t bother calling the van company itself.

The jury is still out on the Tempur-Pedic. Some days my back feels just fine, and other days it hurts all day. Maybe it has nothing to do with the mattress at all, in which case I might as well get a much cheaper mattress.

The Tempur-Pedic is very heavy, and is limp as a noodle, so it is very difficult to move. One online review said something like, “If sleeping on this mattress doesn’t make your back hurt, trying to move it will.”

Several evenings ago, I tried turning it over to try sleeping on the harder bottom side, per the advice of various online commenters.

I managed that, and then undertook to remove the cover, which has kind of a canvas-like surface on the bottom, and then the zipper malfunctioned. My back was going pop-pop-pop-pop and I was good and mad by then, not to mention sweaty.

I could hear Tom chatting merrily away upstairs on the phone, so I told myself, “Pretend you’re an orphan,” which means to pretend you have to do whatever it is all by yourself and I did get the zipper fixed, and did get the cover back on, and put the mattress right way up, and later I told Tom never to so mistreat me in the future and he agreeably said he wouldn’t.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Train in Vain

Hammett is methodically checking each item in the apartment to see if it can be clawed off the wall, if it’s currently attached to the wall, or if it can profitably be trod upon, if not. He keeps walking over my living-room radio and making the CD compartment lid flap open. One snapshot in particular is often to be found on the floor.

His monthly dose of Advantage was due this past Saturday. First he had to be weighed, because his last recorded weight was eight pounds, ten ounces, so I thought he might be as heavy as nine pounds now, which requires a different amount of Advantage.

I took him over to Mission Pet Hospital, where they were busy, but let me weigh him myself. I assumed they had a digital scale in the back, with a basket to plop the animal into, but it turns out they have a massive old-fashioned metal scale with a huge round dial. I set Hammett on the big metal platform and saw that he now weighs nine pounds, twelve ounces. Mom’s big boy!

I was very pleased. I want him to play football, and also to go to Yale.

I have decided I don’t like my new telephone, because my own voice sounds weird to me, and because the earpiece hurts my ear after two or three hours, though my mother says she likes it because when I scream into it, it doesn’t make a horrible buzzing sound in her ear like the old one did.

Then, of course, my answering machine died, assisted by Hammett, so now I am shopping for a phone and an answering machine, or just an answering machine, or a phone with an answering machine. Do you know how many answering machines are listed at Circuit City’s online manifestation? Two!!! Two!!!

Apparently, “nobody” needs an answering machine anymore because “everybody” has a cell phone, or maybe some of them have a phone that comes with an answering machine attached.

My mother has a Uniden cordless phone with answering machine attached that she likes. Do you know how many Uniden cordless phones there are, at least at the site I’ve been looking at? Two hundred and thirteen! I’m completely overwhelmed already by this dreadful project.

My mother says I’m too young to give up on modern technology, so my goal for 2008 is to learn what a BlackBerry is, assuming I survive the current phone crisis.

Plus there’s the hideously expensive bed, which I have decided I don’t like. My back is hurting in the morning more often than not, and it’s really hot to sleep in. I’ve eliminated one layer of covering materials already, and it’s still way too warm.

On Saturday, after weighing Hammett, meditating, doing my back exercises (which are now essential), and going to Rainbow for groceries, I set out with Tom for a birthday dinner in Sacramento, albeit one that was going to be minus the birthday gentleman, who ended up having to work and thus was not able to travel from a distant state.

As always, we walked to BART and then from BART to the Embarcadero. We took the bus from the Amtrak office to the train station in Emeryville, and there we sat reading for quite some time. The train ended up leaving Emeryville 45 minutes or so late. We hoped it might make up the time, but instead it often ground to a halt and didn’t move for several minutes due to track work.

By the time we were supposed to be arriving in Sacramento, we were only in Martinez, which is not even halfway there. We were going to be extremely late, and also, it occurred to Tom, might have the same delay on the way back later that evening.

Usually we stay overnight, but Tom wanted to be back in time for a cycling event Sunday morning. He said maybe we’d better get off the train before it started up again and carried us to Suisun.

I grabbed my backpack and bolted downstairs, waiting to see if Tom, who had stuff in the overhead compartment, was going to make it before I stepped off the train. He did make it.

The nice woman in the train station gave us a partial refund and then we waited for the next train going back the other day, due quite soon, fortunately.

When it stopped, Tom, who had scoffed at the sign saying the train was arriving, was in the bathroom, providing another moment of heightened excitement, but he came sprinting out just in time.

All told, we spent about six hours going pretty much nowhere, but we got plenty of reading done and saw a lovely burnt-orange sunset, and learned many interesting things from our fellow passengers’ cell-phone conversations such as, “I’m on the train,” “I’m on the train,” “I’m on the train,” and “I’m on the train. It’s running really late.”

And then we had dinner at We Be Sushi, which was certainly a happy ending.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


You will not be surprised to learn there is more to the saga of the Tempur-Pedic. As mentioned, the first and second nights, my back felt better to an astonishing extent.

After the third night, my back felt strained again; ditto the fourth.

The Tempur-Pedic website contains this handy FAQ:

[Question:] I am experiencing lower back pain. Is my Tempur-Pedic mattress causing this?
[Answer, in its entirety:] No.

Online reviews reveal that people either love or hate this mattress. Many find it wonderfully comfortable; some say it fixed their back pain. Others say it made their back hurt or is too warm or that it’s hard to change positions once you sink into it.

The most worrisome thing was the oft-voiced complaint that after just a couple of years, the foam compressed, losing its “memory foam” property of returning to its original shape when weight is taken off it.

That would be OK if it was not so expensive an item. However, one could economize by not buying a $150 pillow, which I did buy, and by not buying the $300 box the mattress sits on, which I did buy but could easily live without, as my mattresses have always been smack on the floor, anyway.

The box was acquired on the theory that I’m entering the life phase where I may not be able to claw my way to a standing position from floor level, but I can probably still do it for a few more years.

The boxes come in two heights: five inches and nine inches. I have the nine-inch one and it makes my bed a much more imposing item than it was before. Since my apartment is so small, it now basically looks like the display case for a bed.

Another way one could save money is to get a smaller size. My mattress is full size, but I sleep on only one-third of it, as nothing is more relaxing than clinging to the edge of a bed. A twin would probably allow room for me and Hammett, though it would mean accepting I’m never going to have overnight company again, but maybe it’s time to accept that, anyway.

Of course, probably the surest way to attract overnight company is to make the accommodations for such nonexistent. However, Tom has a nice big bed and he’s so friendly that he’d probably let my company sleep over at his place.

When I was dating Tom, I swear I could say to him, “Bob and I are going away for the weekend,” and he’d say, “Great! I hope you have a good time.” In some subsequent conversation, he might, or might not, ask, “Who’s Bob? I’m not sure I’ve heard you mention him.”

He was just too easy to get along with; it couldn’t last, though I hope it lasts forever as a friendship.

It seems the Tempur-Pedic definitely will not last forever, so I may return the pillow, return the box, and get a smaller size, bringing the cost down enough that it won’t be upsetting if it lasts only three years. Or I could decide that even if it dies in three years, the monthly cost for comfortable sleep will have been acceptable.

I looked online at an organic mattress store in San Francisco and McRoskey. Both have lousy return policies. McRoskey will let you do a one-time exchange within a certain time period, and that’s it. Once they get ahold of your money, you will not be getting it back.

That’s why I bought my Tempur-Pedic from Sleep Train, even though they sold me the crappy pillow top that lasted only two and a half years: they have an outstanding return policy. They also do free delivery and will come and pick up whatever you want to return.

Today I got a chilling email from my friend Dot, who is a personal trainer, saying that when she was my age, she also started to have back pain, and also concluded it was her mattress, and also went and spent a relatively large amount of money on a mattress, only to find that her back pain continued and that what was needed was a good strengthening/stretching program (which may have led directly to her current career). (Which suggests that later I may have a career in eating Tings and then taking a nap.)

She sent some handy info about an exercise to strengthen the transverse abdominis, which she thinks is key, and which crunches do nothing for.

Therefore, I may end up returning the Tempur-Pedic, watching the cash wash back into my checking account, and buying a less expensive firm mattress upon which I can put a foam topper, as needed.

Hammett’s symptoms have not returned since he finished his course of Amoxidrops four weeks ago, thank goodness. Just yesterday, in a show of feline vigor, he did something to my venerable answering machine that finished it off.

“I’m completely cut off from the outside world,” I lamented. But later I remembered it is technically possible to turn the ringer of the phone on and then I felt a smug satisfaction at being unreachable.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Plain Brown Dirt of Kilimanjaro

Much nicer than snow. Yay, global warming!

I talked to my friend Dot on the phone Friday night and, per her advice, turned my pillow-top mattress over, even though only one side is meant for sleeping on, and that not only smote the pillow top for making my back hurt but did certainly provide a firmer sleeping experience, plus when I knocked on it, it made a drum-like hollow sound. I guess that mattress was a basically a box of air with some soft stuff stitched to the top.

I considered just putting a topper (a separate pad) on top of the bottom of the mattress, but in the morning I realized the surface was pretty concave, so I took the bus over to Sleep Train and bought a Tempur-Pedic mattress, which is like kind of like taking a spa mud bath, except that it’s not full of other people’s pubic hair: if you stuck in just one finger, it would go way in, but resting your whole body on it results in almost a floating sensation.

After one night, my back pain was considerably eased, and after the second night, it felt better still.

My mother asked, “How come you can’t buy a computer until you save up the money, but you can buy a mattress any time you feel like it? You know, if you’d buy a really large computer, you could sleep on top of it.”

I was enraged to hear a report on KQED this week about ultra-orthodox Jews in Israel harassing and even physically attacking women who refuse to move to the back of special religious buses. Later I read an account of such an incident in which a woman was spat on and kicked in the face for acting as if she thought she was an actual human being.

As noted elsewhere, something is more than a bit wrong when people demonstrate how much they love their deity by acting like thugs. The rise of ultra-orthodoxy in any religion is alarming, since it always translates directly into oppression of women and gays.

My mother says that Sam Harris says the most vicious hate-filled responses he has gotten to his books (The End of Faith and Letter to A Christian Nation) have come from Christians, which should be a jaw-dropping surprise, but of course is no surprise to anyone at all.

Why is it that if I am extra-religious, it means you will need to give up some of your cumbersome civil or human rights?

Perhaps the ultra-orthodox of all religions could instead demonstrate their devotion by rushing to the back of the bus themselves, foregoing education beyond the third grade, refusing to take more than fifty percent of the salaries offered for their jobs, and doing all of the cooking and cleaning in their homes. Each could adopt ten homeless children or else spend weekends cheerfully volunteering at the abortion clinic.

One of the requirements of ultra-orthodox Jews is modest dress for women because revealing garments may make it impossible for men to control themselves, which should sound pretty familiar by now, from another popular religion.

Perhaps the true man of religion could manifest impeccability by refraining from raping (and, while we’re at it, beating, maiming or mutilating) women even if he sees a woman on the bus in a faux leopard-skin thong.

I myself am disheartened by the sight of women dressed like Britney Spears, for different reasons. While I believe people have every right to dress like strippers, and while I vow to do my best not to rape any such person I may encounter, to me it seems like capitulation to a sexist ideal, the big clue being that only women are required to do it.

It makes me sad that women willingly buy and wear tight, uncomfortable, constricting garments which then mark them as bimbos who deserve whatever mistreatment they receive. Hasten to I Blame the Patriarchy and read about the Orange County police officer who ejaculated on a woman driver he pulled over and was acquitted because the woman’s line of business happened to be stripping.

Also on KQED, I caught a man singing the beautiful song “We’ll Be Together Again.” It was Frankie Laine, whom I confess I had never heard of, since he was never in Metallica.

He was a white singer who sounded black, and was a stepping stone between the smooth, crooning style of Frank Sinatra and rock and roll. When Nat King Cole was unable to get sponsorship for his TV show, Frankie Laine, the first white artist to do so, tried to help by appearing on the show for much less than his usual fee.

My father once, democratically, began an anecdote about the olden days by saying, “When your mother and I were little girls … ” So I have sent them this email, the answer to which may improve my already excellent opinion of them:


“When you were little girls, were you fans of Frankie Laine? Did you have any of his albums?”

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Here’s Me Sitting on the Toilet Holding My Microwave

Sorry, you’ll have to imagine what this would look like for now.

In other art news, the other day I saw “The Art of Gaman” at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art (between Market and Mission and Third and Fourth streets), which features “arts and crafts—both decorative and essential—made by Japanese Americans incarcerated in U.S. internment camps during World War II.”

The exhibit was very moving, as was the presence of many elderly Japanese, some of whom or whose friends and relatives were very likely imprisoned in those camps. The internees carved things out of wood and stone, including walking sticks, brightly painted birds, and little boxes with drawers, and painted pictures, and made “flowers” out of sea shells.

Their only materials were those produced by nature and packaging materials—crates and the like.

This museum is quite small. It consists of an outer area with big windows featuring artwork for sale, while the museum as such is one interior room that usually costs five dollars to enter, but on the first Tuesday of the month, it’s free. It takes no more than 15 or 20 minutes to see the whole exhibit, though there was also a 30-minute video playing over and over, which I would have liked to see but didn’t have time for.

I’m making a bit of progress with eating attentively during the day at work—only eating and not looking at my PC—and with stopping when my stomach indicates I’ve had enough. This means when I return to finish whatever it is later, it’s room temperature, so then I pretend it’s a refreshing gazpacho-type cuisine, as I fear the twice-microwaved foodstuff.

Naturally, I do not have a microwave at home. For one thing, the only remaining storage option is my actual arms, so if I had one, I’d have to carry it from room to room with me: Here’s me sitting on the toilet holding my microwave. That’s Hammett on top of the microwave. Here’s me taking a nice nap with my microwave heaped on top of me like a weary mountain climber at the summit of Mt. Everest.

I’m finding it much more challenging to eat attentively at home after work, which endeavor had lately become rather diet-like: I’m good if I do it, bad if I don’t. And of course it would be neither here nor there if I didn’t perceive it as having some bearing on my shape or weight, and that would be neither here nor there if I didn’t have an opinion about how my shape or weight should be.

Right before I started following the Overcoming Overeating approach, I gained about 30 pounds. Ditto after I started the approach, so all in all, I gained approximately 60 pounds and embarked on a dedicated effort to accept myself as I was, which was quite successful.

But I find now that if it seems like I’ve gained a few pounds (and I can’t say for sure, because I don’t own a scale), I want them to go away: oh, if only I could weigh what I weighed last week, three pounds less. This leads to BBTs (Bad Body Thoughts) taking hold, and then to judgments about what and how much I’m eating.

Basically, it snowballs into a big heap of negative judgments. After a certain number of BBTs that go unchallenged, it starts to seem as if they are true, not just thoughts. But in fact they are just thoughts, and if I devote myself to challenging them for a time, and apologize to myself, and discover what anxiety caused the given thought to arise, they abate most miraculously, and I can go back to making choices without having it be about whether I am good or bad or lovable or not lovable. What a relief!

So here is the choice I have made about dinner, and, possibly more to the point, dessert: I am going to read while I’m eating it, and I’m going to thoroughly eat past full if I feel like it.

Speaking of taking a nice nap, with or without a microwave athwart me, I went to see my doctor’s medical assistant for a referral to physical therapy. She said nix on the referral and to buy a new mattress, so I guess I must do this. I have gathered some recommendations and will shop this weekend. I can think of few things I’d less rather do, but the pain is motivating.

I nearly succumbed to the temptation to be weighed at the doctor’s office but remembered in time that there is nothing important about myself that number can tell me, unless my doctor is actually prescribing medication.

I’m afraid the ivy that Tom’s mother, Ann, gave me for Christmas is, predictably, dead as a doornail, but the pot, which has birds on it, has looked very cheery on top of my refrigerator even as the plant has reproached me with its air of suffering, and I think the pot will be very nice with some stalwart dried flowers in it.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Accursed Traitorous Pillow Top

By chance, I finished the T. C. Boyle’s novel Talk Talk a few days ago and then went to see Babel this weekend, both of which explore communication and the lack thereof; both have a main character who is a deaf woman.

I thought Babel was excellent, though the presence of Brad Pitt was slightly distracting. It’s a tragic tale of bad decisions and cause and effect that takes place in America, Mexico, Morocco and Japan. If you happen to be an English-speaking American citizen, you will feel extremely and guiltily privileged after you watch this.

After Babel, I had the worst burrito I’ve ever had, at a place on the natural path between the AMC 1000 theater on Van Ness and the Lumiere, and then met Tom to see The Departed, which was also very good, albeit quite violent; I believe The New Yorker said it was “merrily violent.” I particularly enjoyed Mark Wahlberg’s character.

Once upon a time, in a fight in real life, he caused someone to lose an eye, so I am not necessarily a fan of him as a person, though I’m sure he’s long since reformed. I once saw him in a movie where he played a stalker and he was so terrifying I had to stop watching halfway through and never did see the end.

Very uncharacteristically, Tom missed a key plot point in The Departed and thus wasn’t sure whether to cheer or to be outraged when the final murder occurred. I would probably have had the same problem if I hadn’t read a review of the movie the morning of the day I saw it.

I’m still having back and/or hip pain and have returned to blaming my mattress. Acupuncture is not helping, probably mostly because lying flat on my back makes it feel worse. My mattress is about two years old and has a pillow top. Apparently, pillow tops are prone to becoming squishy, as mine certainly has. I think what’s happening is that my hips are sinking into the mattress, causing my spine to be unaligned and the surrounding muscles to bunch up.

To test my theory, I borrowed Tom’s sleeping pad and sleeping bag, and slept on them on my floor a couple of nights ago. It was one of the more uncomfortable nights of my life, but my back did not hurt when I aborted the experiment early in the morning, though other sectors were screaming.

I got into bed and, as usual, felt my back seizing up within minutes, and it hurt pretty much as usual when I arose a couple of hours later.

Next I tried something my father told me his dentist of a certain era did daily to keep her back in good shape, which is to lie on the floor for twenty minutes with her knees up and feet near her hips, with her head on a one-inch book, except when I did it, I used a buckwheat-hull pillow in a pleasing gold color.

This gives one’s back the chance to unbunch, and after I did it, voila!—I was absolutely pain-free all day, but then, I had spent only two hours on my crummy mattress. When I did the same thing after spending the whole night on my mattress, it was not quite equal to the task.

Verdict: I must keep up with my stretches and back exercises (which of course I skipped before sleeping on the floor, as I fully expected sleeping on the floor to be a miracle cure), and I must buy a new mattress.

Today’s letter to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle that probably won’t be published is below. It’s a perfectly fine letter, as they all are, but they publish only one out of ten or so. This is in regard to Mayor Newsom’s recently revealed affair with the wife of his campaign manager, who has resigned.

My coworker correctly predicted that he would soon disclose that he was seeking treatment for something or other. He is seeking treatment for alcohol problems.

The letter:

“I don't know what model of recovery Ruby Rippey-Tourk is following, but the Ninth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous prescribes making amends to those one has harmed 'except when to do so would injure them or others.'

“The result of her confession has been the public humiliation of her husband and the loss of his job, as well as the public humiliation of Mayor Newsom and the possible derailment of his political career.

“I support Ms. Rippey-Tourk in having done what she felt was necessary, but can't help but think the gentlepersonly move might have been to carry her secret to the grave.”

As a point of trivia, I used to work for a magazine called ON Union Street, later known as ON San Francisco. One of my duties was to edit the columns sent in by our contributors, most of whom were business owners. We were business-friendly in the extreme. Gavin Newsom, in his capacity as owner of PlumpJack Wines, was one of our writers; however, I can’t remember the first thing about interacting with him, though it must have happened several times.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Whispering Phone, Sean Penn and Sabatier Knife

Last Saturday I saw Children of Men, a grim and probably all-too-accurate vision of the future, set in Britain in 2027, with bombs going off here and there and foreigners being rounded up and put in cages.

In the late afternoon, Tom’s brother Dan arrived from Sacramento and we had dinner at Ananda Fuara and then went to “What It Will Take to End the War: An Evening with Congressman Dennis Kucinich,” which attracted a standing-room-only crowd of 600 or 700.

It was held at the First Unitarian Universalist Society, whose minister jovially noted that plenty of Unitarians don’t believe in God, a startling but refreshing piece of news.

There were several speakers, most of whom were mercifully very brief. Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke and was wonderful. She is actually a better speaker than Dennis Kucinich is. She, of course, was the only member of Congress to vote against the war in Iraq.

While Kucinich was speaking, someone walked into the room and up to the front on the far side of the room from me. My Inborn Celebrity Sensor told me it was Sean Penn. Hoping to get credit for an accurate prediction (and risking ridicule in the event it wasn’t him), I whispered to Tom that I thought Sean Penn had just come in.

Kucinich had finished his speech and was announcing a question-and-answer period when someone came up and whispered to him, and then instead of starting the questions and answers, Sean Penn was introduced and ascended to the podium for a moment. That was thrilling. He’s one of my favorite actors. He hadn’t planned to speak and didn’t do more than say hello.

Speaking of questions and answers, one time when I was on a meditation retreat at Spirit Rock, the teachers invited us to write down any questions currently on our minds and place them in the big bell at the front of the room, which looks like a giant metal pot. Jack Kornfield said they would address as many questions as they had time for, but that the answer might not be definitive: “We said we would do questions and answers.”

After our evening with Dennis Kucinich, as we were walking to the bus stop, Tom said, “You saw Sean Penn by the doors as we were leaving, right?”

“No! Where was he?”

“He was right by the door as we were coming out of the auditorium.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?!”

“I figured if you could spot him clear across the room, you shouldn’t have any problem seeing him three feet away.”


I sat down lately to explore the pleasingly limited features of my cheap new phone. I started by calling it from my work-issued cell phone and found that its ring was barely audible, even turned up "hi."

You'd have to have your ear 18 inches from the phone to know you were being summoned, though that's kind of moot, anyway, since I usually have the ringer turned off altogether and grasp that I have received a call when I see the light blinking on the answering machine, or when I hear someone opining into it.

Still, one would like a brand-new phone, albeit one that cost $14, to possess an audible ring.

I realized its reticence was probably due to the fact that I had, in a sad attempt to cling to the past, attached the previous phone's handset to the new phone. The sound of the ring actually comes out of the handset, which I had never realized, and the Sony handset was declining to amplify the signal sent by the AT&T phone, out of sheer petulance, no doubt.

I gave up and attached the AT&T handset and then it worked just fine.

In the Thelonious era, I liked to have all the windows wide open, and the door to the trash area open, as well, but Hammett is clearly desperate to fling himself out or through any such orifice, so now the place is pretty well sealed up.

Accordingly, when I shower, I must close the bathroom door so I can open the window, and leave it closed until the bathroom is steam-free enough that I can close the window. When I open the door, Hammett is often sitting right outside it, and when he sees me, he remains coolly seated but flings his head wildly up and down and from side to side.

Now that I have a couple of nice kitchen knives that I love and that no one is allowed to touch, this childhood act has come to be the one that causes me the most remorse: when I broke the tip off my mother’s Sabatier paring knife by using it as a pry tool.

Of course, if my parents could see the complete list of my childhood acts, they might feel several others were more remorse-worthy.

I would be furious if someone broke the tip off my Wüsthof slicing knife, but, surprisingly, she didn’t seem angry at all. She reshaped the little knife so that it came to a point again, and that was that.